Enduring a limited stock
As you may easily see, looking at our store, many products are currently out of stock and we have very low stock of many others (for example, we have only two Galarr left!).
Despite it is generally better to have more demand than supply (after all, it means that there are a solid request for our products), I'm a bit frustrated by this situation because anytime a potential buyer wants to grab some of my products, and he/she can't do it because of an empty store, I lose an opportunity to make some money and send my products to a new customer: not good at all. Especially for a Ligurian, like me.
So, despite I'm happy for being pissed off by the "oh no, I have too many requests and I'm not able to fulfil" issue, surely better than a more alarming "oh no, nobody wants to buy my products!" issue, this situation made me think a lot about some mistake that I made in recent times.
Actually, I realized that this blog has become a kind of public psychoanalysis, sorry I'm not even paying you for this. And consider that my father is a psychologist!
In fact, I soon realized that managing an enterprise from scratch is nothing but a collection of mistakes and naivety bought at a huge cost. Luckily, I love collecting things.
I hope, at least, that you may find interesting to be involved behind the scenes of DPF!
So, what brought us to this point? And is there a way to solve the "limited stock issue" in the next future?
Despite the situation is not dramatic at all (I'll receive a full restock in February, including all the new Second Government miniatures, so don't panic), I can't ignore the fact that resin production, at least as I've managed it 'till now, has a kind of original sin: it's a painfully slow and dramatically fragile process.
Resin has a lot of qualities: it keeps the detail of a sculpt better than any other material, it is easy to work (cut, sand and kitbash resin miniatures is easier than with metal ones) and, above all, it's relatively cheap concerning the costs of moulds.
However, making resin casts is a highly artisanal craft, and that means that if you want PERFECT results, you have to wait and above all, be extremely attentive to quality controls.
For your interest, generally from the moment I order a number of fresh resin copies to the moment I receive them, it can take about 3 months: it's a long time indeed. Moreover, it usually happens to find fail casts that have to be replaced, and that means more time to wait for having saleable copies. In specific, I'm particularly picky concerning "when a resin is saleable", and if I see air bubbles* (even very small both in number and dimension) or too evident mould lines, for example, I just discard them in the "cemetery". Unfortunately, despite my old Magic black deck, these discarded miniatures can't return in my hand.
This pickiness of mine is my pride, but also it gives a lot of troubles because often resin casters refuse to replace resins with just a couple of very small bubbles (logically: I don't blame them at all), so I find myself in a situation where I have less saleable copies than expected, and that means basically being obliged to ask for more, pay for more and, above all, wait more time.
So, here is explained why you may think that we are slow in replenishing our stocks!
Obviously, this time everything has been slowed done more than usual because the resin caster had to produce also all the new stock of Second Government range, and I figured out that, at least in the next future, I should surely find a new resin caster in addition to the current one: in my opinion, if you want to produce big numbers of high-quality resin miniatures, there is not yet a specialized caster that can handle it, at least not in decent times.
It's a tricky situation, indeed, full of strategical moves to be carefully planned!
What would be an ideal solution to this problem? Plastic production.
In a bunch of seconds, a hard plastic sprue (think about Malifaux/GW) can be produced and it costs generally less than a dollar each.
Moreover, plastic miniatures don't give all the fail casts issues.
But the moulds and all the engineering process requested for hard plastic miniatures are dramatically expensive, and at this moment I can't afford them, at least not for a regular, full-plastic, production!
So, in the meantime that I study how to skip to plastic for future production, I have to deal with this situation of limited stocks: for sure, the funds gathered in our Second Government campaign, allow me to order a solid number of resins to maintain a decent availability of products, so I think that from February, the situation will be better!
But I think that before starting to produce also the Elf range, I have to optimize the production-chain: to find more resin casters and above all to order in advance more stock of products than before.
We are expanding, guys!
If seen from this perspective, this situation might be considered positively: Durgin Paint Forge has gained some weight, lately, and doesn't fit into old clothes anymore!
Obviously, this only a very first step towards our goals, we are still a Snotling among Giants, but slowly I'm confident that we will derive some satisfaction.
about BLOGGERS AND REVIEWERS
When I talked about "naivety bought at a huge cost", I principally referred to this. Times have changed indeed, and nowadays marketing, especially on social networks, really depends on bloggers/reviewer/influencers.
I won't give you a detailed opinion of mine about this new social trend, I consider 99,999999% of this influencers thing a social disaster if not a proof that humanity has failed (sorry, after all I'm a dwarf inside, so grumbling is part of my DNA), but I can't deny the present, especially when it involves interactions that, willingly or unwillingly, have transformed the market.
When DPF started to have a glimpse of visibility, after our first Kickstarter campaign, I genuinely had faith in the system and I tried to collaborate with the many requests that I received from bloggers/reviewers/etc with an open heart. I would never contact someone to receive free stuff in exchange for "visibility", but this is our world and we must deal with it and take the best from it so I tried to select those individuals that seemed to be the most trusty/useful (I don't want to offend anyone, but if you have 150 followers you can't claim to be anyhow useful for a marketing/commercial purpose), and I happily send them free samples and stuff.
Receiving almost nothing in exchange.
Many just disappeared, many others just put a garbage pic of one of my boxes and tag DPF. Nothing really commercially worthy.
In fact, they just wanted free stuff, for the sake of having free stuff, and I fell for it.
My naivety, for sure, another lesson learned in the hardest way, but I take advantage of this post to explain to you why, from now on, I will be extremely selective with the requests for collaborations/promotion, because I'm not Bezos (sadly) nor Mr. Games Workshop, and unfortunately this influencers-failure left me with not only a waste of money but also has worsened the limited stock issue!
Don't get me wrong: despite I'm Ligurian, I love to give free stuff, but I prefer to do it with joy and to individuals that I think really means something to me (like Marko&Aleksandra from Craftworld Studio).
For example, I usually insert free miniatures in big orders or in special situations, it's a way to reward a customer or to celebrate something that makes me particularly happy!
Usually, and this is the best part of this job, a simple customer becomes almost a friend, and I deeply love to spoil my friends!
So, in the future, I will surely prefer to give free miniatures to you, that are enthusiastic and genuinely interested in my projects, than to a random influencer that just wants some free stuff and gives almost nothing in exchange, and is not interesting at all in supporting my projects.
I hope I've not offended anyone with these last lines, it's only a personal opinion that, above all, has been influenced by my past mistakes and naivety (so half of the blame is mine, at least): I'm just frustrated when I think about not having Sentinel B to sell, at this moment, and realizing that I've sent many of them for free in the past, unnecessarily!
*unfortunately, despite all my efforts, sometimes it may happen that I miss identifying some resin issues :(